Ep 15. Doug Conant: World-Class Employee Engagement
“The more you honor people and their whole selves, the more they honor the agenda and better perform. It's not rocket science."
-- Doug Conant
Doug Conant is founder of Conant Leadership and former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, where he transformed employee engagement from average into world class. Doug is a NYT bestselling author, Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University, co-chairman of CECP, and former Chairman of Avon Products.
In this conversation, Doug describes how he lead Campbell's Soup Company from among the worst of all Fortune 500 companies in employee engagement to best-in-class. This story is so compelling because Doug emphasizes the struggles he had to overcome to make even incremental changes. Over ten years, these small improvements ended up having substantial impact. Stew and Doug also talk about the importance of reflection, particularly in how Doug overcame difficult experiences like getting fired early in his career. The big takeaway from this conversation that Doug shows so well is that we have more control than we think. Listen and learn new ways of thinking about leadership and what it means to bring your whole self to work.
Show Notes (times when new topics start)
3:15 Doug’s leadership philosophy. The most successful people have a real passion for their work because they have made it personal.
6:00 - Employee engagement at Campbell’s. How Doug helped transform employee engagement at Campbell’s from sub-par to world-class.
19:10 Harmony is a choice. Living a harmonious life is a deliberate choice everyone must make. Doug challenged his employees at Campbell’s, and now challenges his clients at Conant Leadership, to take responsibility for this choice.
31:50 What Doug learned from getting fired. The weeks and months after getting fired were challenging period for Doug. He adopted a victim mentality that was overcome only by deep self-reflection and the support of a helpful mentor.